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Abedini says he was beaten--in court!

Pastor Saeed Abedini says he was physically beaten during more than three years behind bars in Iran, one time being repeatedly punched right in a courtroom.

He also said his judge told him he wasn't jailed for proselytizing, but for trying to bring down the Islamic Republic.

"In interrogation, once they beat me very badly," Abedini told Fox's Greta Van Susteren Monday, "because they wanted me to write something [to admit guilt], which I didn't do that."

"It actually was in a courtroom where the judge closed the door and the interrogators started beating me, which in that time, I had stomach bleeding," he said.

He said that he was soon threatened that he was going to be placed with other prisoners who would "beat him to death." Abedini said he was indeed beaten badly by his cellmates, who were common criminals, but "God saved me over there."

At one point, he was hit on the head with a heavy iron chair, he said.

Abedini said his tormentors tried to intimidate him by saying they would track him down after he was released. "They said, 'When you finish your sentence, and you go to the US, we always follow you, and if you continue the thing that you did, we're going to kill you.'"

Abedini said that when he was first arrested and brought before a judge, he was accused of conspiring to take down the Iranian government by promoting Christianity. He tried to explain that he was not seeking to do so, but was merely helping orphaned children and sharing the gospel, but his response was not received well.

"The judge said, 'You know why you are here,' and I said, 'Yeah, I'm here because of my Christian faith and starting house churches all over Iran," Abedini recalled. "And the judge said, 'No, you are not here for this. You are here because you want to use Christianity to remove government.'"

"And, it was like, 'No, I don't want to do that. I just came here to start [an] orphanage, loving people and [to] share the gospel with people and just that,'" Abedini recalled. "And he said, 'No, you guys are using Christianity to remove the government.'"

When Abedini said he would pray for the magistrate, the judge began yelling.

Abedini said he spent two months in solitary confinement, part of the time with his eyes covered, but was later put into a cell with common criminals.

Abedini told Van Susteren he witnessed others being beaten behind bars and observed the guards taking prisoners to be hanged each Wednesday.

"They were scared, and so the soldiers would take their hands, their feet [and] grab them like when they take a lamb for the slaughtering," he said. "It was very graphic things, what I saw when they took people for execution."

Abedini, who was born into a Muslim family and converted to Christianity, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his American-born wife and two children after conflicts with the authorities for organizing house churches. In 2012, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents and was taken into custody. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Abedini flew back to the United States over the weekend and went to Ashville, North Carolina, a Christian retreat where his parents now live. As of press deadline, he was still awaiting the arrival of his wife and two children, who live in Boise, Idaho.

Amir Hekmati, another of the freed men, flew to his home in Flint, Michigan, where he spoke only briefly to reporters at the airport saying he was happy to be home.

Jason Rezaian and his wife and mother were flown back to the United States on board the private plane of Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post. It isn't known where they have gone and Rezaian has not yet said anything since returning to the US.

The fourth dual national released, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, reportedly flew back to the US last week. He has not said anything publicly and not even a photo of him has been found.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Jan 29, 2016
Words:691
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